000 police response: nearly 5 mins delay, then more than 13


Territory Police took 4 minutes and 46 seconds and 13 minutes and 12 seconds, respectively, to pick up two calls via 000 from the manager of the tennis centre, Matt Roberts (pictured), when he was under siege on February 22 by an armed mob threatening to kill him.
This was revealed today by Telstra’s NT media manager Jane de Gault in response to an enquiry from the Alice Springs News Online.
The delays are under investigation also by Police Commander Southern Region Kate Vanderlaan.
The first call did not result in the police coming to Mr Roberts’ assistance. The second one did.
Ms de Gault says: “We received two calls from Mr Roberts. The first was answered by the police 4:46 minutes after we put it through, at which point our operator disconnected from the call.
“A second call, approximately 30 minutes later, was answered by the police after 13:12 minutes.
“During this wait, Mr Roberts would have heard a ring tone and our operator spoke with him at regular intervals to advise we are still trying to get through while reassuring they would stay on until the police answered.”
Ms de Gault says Telstra’s role in Emergency Triple Zero (000) “is to answer and connect calls to the relevant emergency service organisation (ESO) – fire, ambulance or police.
“Telstra Triple Zero operators cannot put callers on ‘hold’ – it is not possible to do this.
“They remain on the line with the caller until the call has been successfully transferred to the ESO.
“When the ESO answers the call, the Telstra Triple Zero operator will wait until conversation has commenced between the caller and the ESO before disconnecting from the call.”
Ms de Gault says ESOs can provide Telstra with up to six different telephone numbers in priority order for each location.
“This means that if the first ESO number is not available, our operator then has the ability to select the next telephone number in the priority order set down by the ESOs.
“When callers dial Triple Zero from a mobile service, our operators must always ask the additional question ‘what State and Town is the emergency in?’
“This is important because different towns can have the same or similar names and be in different states, for example, Armadale Vic, Armadale WA or Armidale NSW.”


  1. Over to the “Top cop to get answers” for an explanation on these times. As I said in a previous comment “either the police budget constraints lead to under staffing of the control room or a higher than normal number of incidents were happening in Darwin and / or around the whole of the Northern Territory at the time of Matt’s call(s).” Rather than demonising the police on this matter, what I would like to know is what is happening to this horrible armed mob who lay siege to Mr Roberts.

  2. I feel sick when I saw the News this evening man about what happen. Sorry to hear about that Matt. I wish I was there brother, I will teach them a lesson. I hope you OK brother.
    I don’t know who’s to blamed for the 000 response. Last year someone broke in my car. I called the 000 before 6am that morning and it took nearly a whole day before the police response. Amazing. What can I say?
    Anyway Matt will see you at the tennis tomorrow and Thursday OK. If you need any help in regards that I’m here to help 0428 849411.

  3. I am so glad Bob Taylor has refocused this debate. It’s all well and good for the NT Police to answer to the minute, to the second, but what HAS happened to the “horrible armed mob who lay siege to Mr Roberts”?
    And who will pay for the damage to the property? I have suggested at other times that the parents of minors should be asked to pay, even if only a small amount each fortnight. With the police and courts largely dealt out of the equation when minors are involved in a proven crime, it’s down to their families to bring pressure to bear on these kids to change their attitude and behaviour.


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